I’ve been wandering the city recently. Walking and checking things off the to-do list for the bike tour in my head. Sometimes I find myself in some spot I haven’t really paid attention to before, and find a surprise. Little bit of Denver’s past showing through the cracks.
Denver is changing, fast. In the last couple of years, all of the convenience stores in my neighborhood have vanished, and mixed use developments are going up in their place. It’s urban development come full circle. They tore down the older homes to put those in during the 70s and now they’re tearing them out to put homes back.
The lot behind Turin, where both Steph and I tested our bicycles before buying them, is gone. I don’t miss the 70s vintage exposed aggregate office building, but will miss the cute Victorian next to it. Things change. That is their nature.
Except sometimes, things don’t change. You find it in some weird spots. I’ve found houses sitting alone in parking lots, all of the neighboring ones demolished and paved over. Lone survivors from a time when urban housing was less dense, and of higher quality. Sometimes they’re wedged in between buildings, almost like that woman who didn’t want to sell her house and watched a mall get built around her. There’s one I’ve found like this, but it’s stuck in such a spot the light is always bad when I try to take a picture of it.
The ones in this post are behind an office building that was originally a motor lodge built in the 1960s when those were all the rage. It’s an odd spot in a town of fast paced redevelopment and increasing density. Like a bit of old paint showing through a chip in the fresh coat.
They’re maintained, at least. Probably used for storage. The garages out back had a business name on them, which I wish I had written down. It looks like someone had set up a small mechanics shop in them in the 1920s and made a living.
Almost no one pays attention to this spot. Out of the way, just off Colfax, not in a desirable part of town. The land has been for sale for a number of years, but the adjacent manufacturing must require the new owner to do some clean up, as it hasn’t sold in that time. Still, it’s kind of cool at see how that part of town used to look right after the First World War. There was once an entire neighborhood like this, butting up against Cherry Creek and Colfax. The retaining walls had gone up around the creek after numerous floods, and Mayor Speer was giving away trees as part of his plan to beautify the city. A different Denver. Most of that is gone, swallowed by the asphalt of the adjoining parking lots demanded by the auto dominated city planning of the 50s. But still, it’s nice there are survivors, letting you see some of what the city used to be though little cracks.